The first verse in the Bible (yellow above) gives a summary statement about the universe: God created it! It didn't start by itself from nothing. It's the result of divine intelligence and power.
This opening statement in scripture is foundational for all Jewish, Christian, and Muslim belief.
The second verse in the Bible (yellow above) zooms to planet earth and says that it was formless and empty.
Surveys show that most Christians believe that God created the earth essentially in its present form. But that's NOT what the Bible says.
The Bible says that, in the beginning, the earth didn't have any form. Nothing was on it or in it. It was formless and empty, now confirmed by modern science.
The instant creation of the universe – the Big Bang –was an incomprehensible release of divine energy which sent neutrons, electrons, and protons – the raw materials for everything we see today – flying out in every direction. The explosion was so powerful that we can track the direction and speed of stars and galaxies still moving away from us and from each other.
With supercomputers, astrophysicists have calculated that an explosion of that magnitude would have created a temperature of about 1,8 billion degrees Fahrenheit, which cooled to about 16,000 degrees after 56,000 years.
And what happens at that temperature? Everything is vaporized – 'formless and empty' – just as the Bible says.
The second verse in the Bible (yellow above) says further that there was darkness over the earth's surface.
It seems like a contradiction to say that there was a gigantic explosion – which to us also means intense light – and at the same time to say that everything was dark.
But now we know from modern science that light cannot penetrate intense heat.
The free electrons would have caused light (photons) to scatter the way sunlight scatters from the water droplets in clouds. Over time, the free electrons met up with nuclei and created neutral atoms. This allowed light to begin glowing through about 380,000 years after the Big Bang.
This corresponds with Day 1 of the Bible creation story when God created light ... and Day 3, when light began to penetrate the dense cloud cover enough to support simple vegetation fed by water and photosynthesis ... and Day 4, when the earth had cooled to the extent that breaks in the cloud cover revealed the sun, moon, and stars.
The 'face of the deep' is just a way of saying that a shape (face, what we can see) was beginning to form from this very large (deep, more 8,000 miles) swirl of gasses.
The second verse in the Bible (yellow above) also says that, after the vapors cooled into solids, the earth had form and content.
Modern science fills in some details. As the vapors cooled, the earth became a ball of molten rock, and a crust eventually formed (today 5-25 miles thick).
The crust cooled and strengthened enough so that water vapor, condensing as rain, no longer rose up again as steam, but stayed on the earth's surface.
Later, in Day 2, the Bible says that God created an 'expanse' (atmosphere of air capable of supporting life) between the waters above (clouds) and the waters below (oceans, rivers, and lakes). This is the narrow space in the universe in which we can live without supplemental oxygen, approximately 15,000 feet of breathable air around the earth.
The 'spirit of God was hovering over the waters' is a way of saying that God was giving special attention to planet earth – then appearing only as 'waters' – because God planned to do something very unique and special here, to create land and life.
From Genesis 1:2 we know from the Bible that the earth was NOT created instantly in its present form. Enormous changes have occurred over time in the earth's structure and content.
'He alone stretches out the heavens' (Job 9:8) ... 'he stretches out the heavens like a tent' (Psalm 104:2) ... 'he stretches out the heavens like a canopy, and spreads them out like a tent to live in.' (Isaiah 40:22).
'... the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out' (Isaiah 42:5) ... 'Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens' (Isaiah 44:24) ... 'My own hands stretched out the heavens' (Isaiah 45:12) ... 'my right hand spread out the heavens' (Isaiah 48:13) ... 'the Lord your Maker, who stretches out the heavens' (Isaiah 51:13).
'... stretched out the heavens by his understanding' (Jeremiah 10:12) ... 'stretched out the heavens by his understanding' (Jeremiah 51:15) ... 'The Lord, who stretches out the heavens by his understanding' (Zechariah 12:1).
Notice that these verses say that God 'stretches' out the heavens. The word is present tense continuous. God is still stretching – via the Big Bang – just as science has discovered.
The Big Bang theory – 'theory' means 'explanation' – is the result of new information from modern telescopes, scientific measuring instruments, and supercomputers.
Astronomers learned that the cosmos is not static as previously thought. Everything is in constant motion outwards.
They learned that every object in space is not only moving away from the earth but also moving away from every other object, as illustrated in this diagram. Even entire galaxies are moving away from each other.
With the ability to track the direction and speed of objects in space, astronomers then reasoned that they could plot an object's track and estimate where it had been on that track at various times in the past.
They discovered that, by tracing backward, every track originated at the same point in space – the Big Bang (center of the diagram) – about 13.8 billion years ago by measuring the speed and distance traveled on each track. It's impossible to tell where that point was because space itself is expanding!
The concept of an expanding universe is not contrary to the Bible. It's exactly what the Bible teaches.